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Author: 



Wilkinson, Geoffrey W 



Title: 



Common hazards 



Place: 



London 

Date: 

1922 



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V/ilkinson, Geoffrey W 

Comnon hazards. By Geoffrey W. Wilkinson... 
London, Layton, 1922. 
xvii, 38 p. l&h cm. 

Bibliographical note: p. j-iii^-iv. 




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COMMON 
HAZARDS 



BY 



GEOFFREY W. WILKINSON 

Auihor of "Fire Re-mMurance," 







London : 

CHARLES & EDWIN 

LAYTON, 

56, Farringdoa St , , E C . 4 . 



^ 






LIBRARY 




School of Business 



i 





•tamped below, and if not returned or renewed at or 
before that time a fine of five cents a day will be incurred. 



wimitmmA 



/ 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



BY 



GEOFFREY W. WILKINSON, 

Author of " Fire Re-insurance." 



h> 



LONDON : 

CHARLES & EDWIN LAYTON, 
56, Farringdon Street, E.G. 4. 

1922. 






> in 



PREFACE. 






J) 






'N 



Young students of " Common Hazards " must 
often have felt the lack of a text book on their 
subject. I felt it myself many years ago before 
I sat for the " Chartered Insurance Institute " 
Examination, and strange to say, so far as I know, 
though I may be wrong, no such text book has yet 
appeared. If I have succeeded in filling the want 
to a certain extent I shall be glad. Even in that 
case, however, the credit will only be mine to a 
small extent. For I am greatly indebted to 
many writers of papers and notes on the subject 
of " Common Hazards," and I must at once 
acknowledge my indebtedness to several gentlemen 
from whose papers I have made quotations. 
Foremost among these I must mention Mr. W. 
Carter, whose paper on Common Hazards is 
recognised as the standard reference. Mr. T. 
Healey's paper on The Fire Risks in Artificial 
IlluminantSy read in the year 1914, is also of 
great value, while Mr. J. H. Matthew's Essay on 
Building Construction in Relation to Fire Hazard, 



A. 



IV 



PREFACE. 



published in booklet form, is uncommonly 
interesting to the student either of " Common 
Hazards " or " Building Construction." I should 
almost mention my indebtedness to the Post 
Magazine and Stone & Cox's Fire and Marine Year 
Book, 

In writing my notes on the various items of 
risk I have aimed at condensation rather than a 
fluent style, and the result may be considered 
somewhat patchy, but I would recommend the 
student to supplement his reading of them by the 
perusal of as many as possible of the excellent 
papers which are given from time to time by 
Insiurance ofl&cials. 

G. W. Wilkinson. 
Leeds, ^h February, 1922. 



% 



\ 



I 



#^ 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 



Par. 




Par. 


Height 


I 


Smoking 


... 15 


Cubical Capacity .;. 


2 


Iron Gratings 


.. 16 


Extensive Floor Space 
Assistants 


3 
4 


Exposure 17, 18, 19, ' 
Too Much Window 


20, 21, 
22.23 


Dwellings in 




Space 


.. 24 


Business Premises 


5 


Constructional 25, 


26, 27 


Plural Tenancy 


6 


28, 29, 30. 


31. 32 


Lack of Fire Brigade 




Wooden Linings 


..* 26 


Assistance 


7 


Imperfect Walls 


... 29 


Night- WORK 


8 


Staircases 


•• 33 


Moral Hazard 


9 


Hoists 


•• 34 


Cleanliness of 




Well Holes ... 


.. 35 


Xa^£M1S£S ••• ••• 


10 


/VR£AS ••• ••• 


... 36 


Children Playing 




Floor Openings 


-. 37 


WITH Matches ... 


II 


Boilers 


■• 45 


Lights Thrown Down 


12 


Heating 38, 39, 40, 


41. 42, 


Treading on Unused 
Matches 


13 


43. 44. 45. 
Lighting 48, 49, 50, 


46, 47 
51,52 


Carelessness in 




Gas Engines ... 


•• 53 


Depositing Ashes 


14 


Hazardous Goods 


••• 54 






i 



/ 



INTRODUCTION. 




,i 



Common Hazards is the title given, by the 
Chartered Insurance Institute of Great Britain 
and Ireland, to one division of technical knowledge 
in which candidates for their diploma are 
examined. 

Except to those having some experience of 
the Fire Insurance business, the name gives no 
clear indication of the category of human 
knowledge which the subject embraces. Unlike 
the great majority of subjects, with the names 
(at least) of which every schoolboy is familiar, 
" Common Hazards *' is a subject the limits of 
which, at any rate for the purposes of the 
Chartered Institute examination, are arbitrarily 
fixed. To take another subject by way of 
contrast, Electricity, for instance, is a branch of 
science which depends for its existence on a 
diistinct class of natural phenomena, and every 
student knows that anything connected with the 
electrical fluid appertains to the science of 
Electricity ; but as regards " Common Hazards," 
although we can easily state whether or not a 



Vlll 



INTRODUCTION. 



circumstance comes in that category when we 
know tJie exact scope of the subject, the title itself 
is not a key to the classification. It is for those 
who affix the title to indicate the hmits of the 
subject. 

I think it may be safely asserted that these 
limits have not yet been clearly defined; but, 
for all practical purposes, the scope of the subject 
to be studied by those who wish to pass the 
Chartered Institute's examination can be clearly 
enough apprehended from the questions asked 
and from the published syllabus. 

Quite apart from the Chartered Institute 
Examination, the term " Common Hazards " 
suggests to the Fire Insurance official those 
commonly occurring circumstances which may : — 

[a) Give rise to fires (i.e,, direct causes of 
fires) as, for instance, the throwing down 
of lighted matches. 

(h) Tend to increase the loss caused by fire as, 
for instance, the excessive height of 
buildings. 

(c) Increase the probabihty of fires occurring 
as, for instance, the proximity of wood- 
work to a gas Hght. 

But how common a hazard has to be before it 
can be considered as coming within the limits set 
by the Chartered Institute is a moot point. 



■4^ 



INTRODUCTION. 



IX 



1^ 



In writing these notes, however, I have tried to 
include all the " Common Hazards " that are 
likely to come within the scope of the examination 
and, in addition, to treat the subject in such a 
way that the student may acquire more knowledge 
of it than that which might enable him to pass 
the examination. The passing of the latter is 
after all only an incentive to the study of Fire 
Hazards, and it is the dissemination of knowledge 
on this subject and the encouragement of research 
that are of value rather than the granting of 
certificates to individuals. Let the individual 
student grasp the essentials .of the subject and he 
will soon find himself, if he wishes, in possession 
of the Chartered Institute certificate. 

The study of Fire Hazards is indeed of 
immense importance : this will be realised when 
it is known that the loss caused by Fire in Great 
Britain alone amounts to a figure in the neighbour- 
hood of £10,000,000 annually. Many of the 
subjects set by the Chartered Insurance Institute, 
though important to the Insurance official because 
the studying of them assist him in the efficient 
execution of his work, are of little direct interest 
to the community at large : " Common Hazards," 
on the contrary, are a menace to the community 
and, as such, call for careful attention from those 
whose duty it is to protect the community from 
them. 



X INTRODUCTION. 

For convenience of study it is advisable to 
make some divisions of the subject. 

. As stated on page viii, '* Common Hazards " 
may be divided into three categories which are 
here repeated, viz. : — 

(a) Those which may give rise to fires. 

(b) Those which tend to increase the loss 

caused by fire. 

(c) Those which increase the probability of 

fires occurring. 

It may be necessary to point out, however, to 
the young student that though the hazards in 
these three categories may not be of equal 
importance, the difference in importance of any 
two of them does not necessarily arise from the 
fact that one is in one of the above categories 
and the other in another. It is true that without 
the hazards in category (a)— the direct causes of 
fires — ^no fire losses would occur, but, on the other 
hand, many fires are caused without resulting in 
any great loss of property. In the absence of the 
conditions referred to in category (b) — hazards 
which tend to increase the losses caused by fire — 
many fires may occur without causing any 
considerable loss. Let us take a concrete example 
to show, perhaps more clearly, what is meant. 

Imagine a five-storeyed building of non- 



INTRODUCTION. 



XI 




fireproof construction, the ground floor of which 
has a wooden ceiling and is hghted by unprotected 
incandescent gas-lights of high candle power, the 
lamps being near the ceiling. 

If this is a complete description of the building, 
the latter cannot catch fire unless the gas is 
lighted : a young student might therefore think 
that the most important hazard in the building 
was the gas-light ; and he might argue that, if 
you could prevent the direct causes of fire such as 
uncovered lights, you would prevent all 
destructive fires and that therefore the Fire 
Insurance Surveyor ought to concentrate his 
attention on the causes of fires. 

This is not exactly the case, however. It 
must be remembered that while it is impossible to 
prevent all causes of fires, the Insurance Com- 
panies are more concerned with the amount of 
loss caused through property being burned than 
with the frequency of fires. An Insurance 
Company would prefer to have a thousand fires 
which caused a loss of a pound or two each, 
rather than one fire which caused a loss of (say) 
£10,000. The extent of fire losses, not the 
frequency of losses, is what the Surveyor has 
above all to guard against. 

In the hypothetical building cited above, there 
are three hazards requiring the Surveyor's atten- 
tion and each of these comes within a separate 



xu 



INTRODUCTION. 



INTRODUCTION. 



xm 



category as above defined. They are as follows, 
viz. : — 

(a) The incandescent gas-lights, being of high 

candle power and yet unprotected. 

(b) The height of the building, because of the 

tremendous up-draught of air which 
would be caused if a fire arose, and 
because of the difficulty met by firemen 
in squirting water to the top of high 
buildings, and for other reasons (see 
page i). 

(c) The proximity of wooden ceilings to the 

lights, thus making a fire more probable. 

This example may help the student to realise 
that in studying " Common Hazards " it might 
be easy for him to exaggerate the importance of 
direct causes of losses. Constructional hazards 
and a multitude of other kinds of hazards are just 
as important as those which refer immediately to 
the existence of flames, sparks, or electrical 
currents. The student of " Common Hazards " 
has to learn, not only the causes of fires, but a far 
greater subject — the causes of fire-losses. 

The multifarious nature of the causes of fire- 
losses baffles our efforts to make a simple and yet 
comprehensive classification which should indicate 
the comparative importance of the hazards. 
Nevertheless the student may well' call for some 



■? 



guidance as to which kinds of hazards are most 
productive of fires, which really are the common 
hazards, and what divisions of the subject he can 
make for the sake of convenience of study. In 
accordance with these requirements, the scheme I 
have borne in mind in writing these notes is to 
make five broad divisions of " Common Hazards " 
thus : — 

I. Hazards of Lighting. 

II. Hazards of Heating. 

III. Constructional Hazards. 

IV. Exposure Hazards. 

V. Miscellaneous Hazards. 

On glancing through paragraphs i to 54, 
however, the reader will notice that I have not 
strictly observed the above order in dealing 
separately with the hazards. I have deliberately 
done otherwise partly to make the reading, as 
well as the writing, of the notes more interesting, 
and partly because I think some advantage may 
be gained by dealing with some of the mis- 
cellaneous Hazards at an early stage. The 
hazards of Height, Night- work. Cubical Capacity, 
for instance, are selected for mention in the 
Syllabus of the Chartered Institute's examination, 
and might well be recorded near the beginning 
rather than the end of the notes. 

Of these five categories the most important is 

c 



•^'< 



XIV 



INTRODUCTION. 



t . 



that which refers to Hazards of Lighting. Accord- 
ing to the Chief Officer of the London Salvage 
Corps, 753 fires out of a year's total of 3,3^7 ^vere 
caused by Lighting Hazards in London. That is 
22-2 % were caused by Artificial Lighting. 
Paragraphs Nos. 48, 49, 50, 51 and 52, refer to 
Lighting Hazards. 

It is probable that Hazards of Heating come 
next to those of Lighting in importance and 
these are dealt with in paragraphs Nos. 38, 39, 40, 
41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 47. 

Hazards of Construction require a very con- 
siderable amount of study. There are so many 
frequently occurring constructional defects to be 
noticed by one who is estimating comparative 
fire-risks that it is fortunate for me that I have 
set out to enumerate Common Hazards only, that 
is to say only the more important and frequently 
occurring hazards. To indicate all types of 
defective construction would be, not only to 
encroach on but actually to encompass the whole 
subject of Building Construction as understood by 
the expert in Fire Prevention. That is not the 
present writer's duty ; what he has to do is to 
include, in his hst of commonly occurring hazards, 
those features of construction which are excep- 
tionally undesirable from a Fire Insurer's point 
of view, but which are nevertheless frequently 
foimd in buildings. 






INTRODUCTION. 



XV 



, 



Hl 



Constructional Hazards are considered in 
paragraphs 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32. 

Exposure Hazards are hazards that are due 
to the proximity of buildings or parcels of property 
one to another. A non-fireproof building near 
another non-fireproof building is exposed to fire- 
hazard from the latter. The degree of risk which 
one building entails upon another depends very 
greatly upon their relative heights : a high building 
is more liable to communication of fire to it from 
an opposing low building than a low building 
from a high one ; because the natural direction 
of flames is upward. The risk depends also upon 
their distance apart and upon their construction. 
It also depends upon the existence, size, etc., of 
openings in the walls of the buildings and upon 
the slope of the ground. 

But it is the importance of construction that 
should be specially emphasized in connection 
with exposure. A building that carries external 
timber fixtures may be exposed to a fire-hazard 
from neighbouring or adjoining buildings, or it 
may not ; but in either case, from the Fire 
Insurer's point of view, it is an instance of defec- 
tive construction. But where there are buildings 
adjacent or near to a building having woodwork 
on its exterior, the exposure hazard to the latter 
is considerably increased ; and even if such a 
building stands quite alone its partial timber 



XVI 



INTRODUCTION. 



construction is a risky feature. The use of 
timber or other inflammable material on the 
outside of buildings therefore introduces either 
one hazard, viz. : defective construction ; or two 
hazards, viz. : defective construction and exposure 
hazard. 

Paragraphs Nos. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 
deal with Exposure hazards, but most of them 
are also concerned with Constructional Hazards. 

Now I want to emphasize a fact which should 
be duly noted by the young student, if it has not 
already occurred to him — a. fact which in any case 
he should continually bear in mind. 

This is, namely, that a conflagration is a 
phenomenon of enormous destructive power which, 
under certain circumstances, can reach such a 
degree of intensity as to devour nearly all that 
comes in its path. It can make masonry crumble 
and collapse ; it can twist heavy ironwork into 
fantastic shapes ; corrugated iron can withstand 
it little better than a wooden partition ; slates 
crack under its heat. 

The student must learn to estimate risks with 
this in his mind. An uncovered iron girder may 
seem to him a harmless feature ; but let him see 
how a conflagration can rive such a girder from 
its position, and in so doing cause the collapse of 
a wall, and he will realise that the girder should 
be covered with terra-cotta, concrete or plaster. 



\ 



-f> 



ik. 



INTRODUCTION. 



XVll 



A wooden gutter running along the eaves of a 
street-building may seem to him an insignificant 
risk ; but let him see the flames from a 
conflagration darting in the wind from gutter to 
gutter, even across streets, withdrawing the 
firemen's attentions from the centre of the fire, 
and perhaps giving rise to additional con- 
flagrations, and he will agree that gutters should 
be made of metal. Let him bend back his head 
and gaze up at firemen, small in perspective, 
working at the top of a high building on fire, and 
he will begin to appreciate the hazard of height. 
Let him watch the strenuous efforts of firemen to 
prevent a huge fire spreading to an adjoining or 
neighbouring building, and he will begin to 
admire the qualities of fireproof construction. 
Let him remember that the most powerful enemy 
of fire is — ^bricks. 

By way of concluding this introduction, I 
have added a summary of the paragraph headings 
arranged in such a way as to indicate, at a glance, 
the ground covered by this little book. 



SUMMARY. 




Par. 




Par 


Height 


I 


Smoking 


' 15 


Cubical Capacity 


2 


Iron Gratings 


... 16 


ExTKNsivE Floor Space 


3 


Exposure 17, 18, 19, 


20, 21, 








22,23 


Assistants 


4 


Too Much Window 








Space 


... 24 


Dwellings in 








Business Premises 


5 


Constructional 25, 


26, 27 






28, 29, 30, 


31.32 


Plural Tenancy 


6 


Wooden Linings 


... 26 


Lack of Fire Brigade 




Imperfect W^alls 


... 29 


Assistance 


7 










Staircases 


•• 33 


Night- work 


8 










Hoists 


... 34 


Moral Hazard 


9 










Well Holes ... 


• 35 


Cleanliness of 












x\ xvc« A • • • • a • 


.. 36 


JrRSBillSCS ••• ••• 


ID 




^ 






Floor Openings 


... 37 


Children Playing 






*^ • 


WITH Matches ... 


II 


Boilers 


.. 45 


Lights Thrown Down 


12 


Heating 38, 39, 40, 


41. 42. 






43. 44. 45. 


46, 47 


Treading on Unused 








Matches 


13 


Lighting 48, 49, 50, 


51.52 


Carelessness in 




Gas Engines ... 


•• 33 


Depositing Ashes ... 


M 


Hazardous Goods 


•• 54 



'^ '^ 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



1. Height. — Fire has a natural tendency to 
spread in an upward direction even more easily 
than laterally ; and just as a building containing 
a large undivided floor space is considered (as 
such) a worse risk than a small building, so a high 
building is considered more hazardous than a low 
one. 

A building with more than one storey is made 
more hazardous by each additional storey and as 
a rule, each storey above a reasonable number 
gives rise to an additional rate of premium on the 
building and its contents. 

For, in case of fire, the up-draught of air 
through floor communications is intensified in a 
high building ; and unless hoists and staircases 
are enclosed by walls of brick or other incombus- 
tible material, with a fireproof door to each of the 
openings, they provide easy conveyance of flames 
from floor to floor. 

If a building is five or six storeys in height. 
Fire Brigades would have difficulty in coping with 




i't 



2 COMMON HAZARDS. 

a fire in the upper storeys. Sixty feet is the 
greatest height to which a building can be quickly 
protected by the Fire Brigades even in London 
(1910), and lower buildings will present difficulties 
to many provincial brigades. 

Additional reasons for an increase in premium 
on account of excessive height are (i) that plural 
tenancy is more likely in a building with many 
storeys, (2) that with each additional storey the 
risk of collapse of the walls is increased by the 
added weight on the floors, (3) that several high 
buildings near to one another increase the exposure 
hazard. (See paragraphs 6 & 17.) 

2. Cubical Capacity. — Separate parcels of 
property, say, for instance, pieces of woollen cloth, 
are not so likely to be damaged by fire if they 
are separated from each other by party walls as 
they would be if they were almost touching each 
other in the same room. The more a thousand 
pounds worth of cloth is divided up in such a way 
as to avoid fire leaping from one part of it to 
another, the less risk there is of that thousand 
pounds worth of cloth being destroyed by fire. 

Conversely a large accumulation of property 
in one building is necessarily rated higher than the 
same property would be if it were divided up in 
several smaller buildings — hence the extra rate 
charged for excessive cubical capacity in Woollen 
and other Warehouses and Furniture Depositories. 



i 



COMMON HAZARDS. 3 

In Cotton Mills the number of spindles used are 
taken as a criterion of size ; in Corn Mills the 
amount of roller contact. 

3. Extensive Floor Space. — " Extensive floor 
space, unbroken by any divisional walls, or even 
fire-resisting partitions, naturally adds to the 
probabilities of large fire claims as the whole 
floor may easily become involved should a fire 
break out, especially where there are the added 
dangers of draughts, wood linings, etc." 

Mr. J. H. Matthews. 

4. Number of Assistants in Retail Shops, etc. — 
The number of assistants employed in retail shops 
— Drapers' shops for instance — is a good indication 
of the size of the establishment. 

As explained in paragraph 2, a large accumula- 
tion of stock may carry a higher rate than a small 
quantity in a proportionately smaller building. 
Similarly, a Draper's Shop with a large number of 
assistants, being necessarily a larger estabhshment 
than one employing only two or three assistants, 
may well carry a higher rate on account of its size. 

The deduction as to the comparative sizes of 
establishments from the number of assistants 
employed is not apphcable to Warehouses, Cotton 
Mills, Furniture Depositories, Corn Mills, etc. A 
huge warehouse, for instance, may contain only a 
comparatively small number of assistants. The 
sizes of warehouses do not necessarily vary, even 



'' 



'Ill, ;' 



'I 



4 COMMON HAZARDS. 

approximately, with the number of assistants 
employed, while, on a rough estimate, the sizes 
of retail shops do. 

Apart from the question of size, the risk of fire 
may be said to vary directly as the number of 
assistants ; each assistant is a potential causer of 
fire through carelessness. Moreover, if a large fire 
occurs in a huge Drapery Establishment a great 
deal of time must perforce be taken up in saving 
the lives of many assistants (probably women 
for the most part) — time which could otherwise 
be used in saving property from destruction. 

5. Dwellings in Business Premises.— Where 
there are dwellings in business premises, especially 
at the top of high buildings, they constitute an 
added risk, chiefly because of the possibility of 
Fire Brigades having to spend time in saving the 
in-dwellers instead of devoting all their energy to 
the extinguishing of the fire. 

6. Plural Tenancy. — Where there are several 
tenants in a building this circumstance increases 
the risk of fire. For the risk of arson — a crime 
that we can hardly yet consider extinct — is 
increased and there is a probabiHty of more care- 
lessness. The watchful care and strict manage- 
ment that might be exercised by a tenant in a 
building occupied by himself alone is quite likely 
to be vitiated by the carelessness or bad habits of 
co-partners in the tenancy if there be such. 






^it 



COMMON HAZARDS. 5 

The placing and good care of Fire Extinguishing 
Appliances throughout the building is rendered 
more difficult and indeed almost too improbable 
(as regards care) to warrant a discount to the 
tenant who is to benefit by it in his Insurance 
Premium. 

Further, where warranties are applied to an 
insurance, it is extremely difficult for one of the 
tenants to make certain that they are being duly 
observed by other tenants. 

7. Lack of Fire Brigade Assistance. — An item of 
considerable importance in fixing the rate for a risk 
is its distance from the nearest Fire Brigade 
Station and the relative efficiency of the Fire 
Brigade. 

In this respect country mansions and country 
factories are usually very unfavourably situated. 
The distance to the station is often considerable 
and the efficiency of the local Brigade far below 
that of town Corps, while the supply of water 
is often at an inconvenient distance from 
the risk. 

It may be mentioned that this factor in Fire 
Hazards counts for a great deal in the U.S.A. and 
is one of the chief influences that tend to raise the 
loss rates in that and other countries where large 
areas are not well protected by Fire Brigades. 

8. Night-work.— Night-work involves the con- 
tinuous use of artificial light and often the use of 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 




stoves or other means of heating— the risk of fire 
is consequently increased. 

Moreover irregularities, such as smoking, 
arising from lack of full supervision, may occur. 

The running of power machinery through the 
night involves an extra risk of faulty lubrication 
which may give rise to fire occurring through 
friction. 

In premises comprising several buildings where 
there are fireproof doors, there is an added danger 
that the latter may be left open unless they close 
automatically. 

On the other hand, each worker may be looked 
upon as tantamount to a night-watchman ready to 
extinguish fire should it occur. 

Balancing the " pro's " and " con's " there is, 
no doubt, an additional hazard incurred by night 
work. 

9. Moral Hazard.—'* Moral Hazard " means the 
risk of the Insured or his assistants being so 
dishonest as to set fire to his own premises, or 
being so careless or having such bad habits as to 
increase the danger of fire arising. 

The term "Moral Hazard" should also be 
understood as referring to the degree of intelligent 
appreciation of the economic damage, done to 
industry by fire, that is shown by the people in 
the locality of the risk. The principles of Fire 
Insurance are anything but well understood even 



i 



by the people of Great Britain : much less are 
they appreciated in less civilised countries. It is 
surprising how many people there are, even in this 
country, who have a keen desire to get " something 
back " in exchange for their Fire Insurance 
premiums. 

Inefficient management of premises is akin to 
Moral Hazard. A factory, for instance, that is 
well managed will be clean (if cleanliness is possible 
in spite of the trade carried on), neat and 
orderly. 

One little test of good management from the 
Insurance Company's point of view is the sweeping 
up daily of all cuttings, clippings, shavings, saw- 
dust, oily waste, etc. 

10. Cleanliness of Premises. — Waste of all 
kinds, shavings, sawdust, cuttings, cHppings, 
waste paper, cotton waste, etc., particularly oily 
cotton waste used for cleaning machinery, should 
be swept up daily and either destroyed at once in 
a safe manner or stored in a place at a safe distance 
from the building. They are best placed in a metal 
receptacle provided with a metal lid : the lid 
should close automatically. 

The regularity with which this is done and the 
general cleanliness and orderliness of a business 
place are tests of good management ; and a dirty 
and untidy place is likely to be a bad risk. 

Special reference to oily cotton waste is needed 



8 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



because this matter is specified in the Chartered 
Insurance Institute syllabus. 

Cotton is a material that burns very easily 
alone, and if saturated with oil, the danger of fire 
is increased. A lighted candle, match, or taper, 
and even sparks caused by friction in machinery 
may easily start a blaze in a heap of oily waste. 
Moreover the waste may take fire as a result of 
spontaneous combustion. A heap of the material, 
being made up of thousands of cotton threads 
saturated with oil, each thread encircled with air, 
is exceptionally liable to spontaneous combustion. 
Hence the need for daily removal and storage in 
metal receptacles or in the open. 

11. Children playing with matches. — Children, 
playing with matches, are responsible for a 
relatively enormous number of fires. This is a 
risk that could be reduced but hardly one that 
can be offset against an additional rate of 
premium. 

12. Lights thrown down. — Smokers often 
throw lighted matches down carelessly and without 
watching where they go. Workpeople lighting up 
lamps and gases, etc., do the same. In one year 
alone 823 fires out of a total of 3,387 were caused 
in London by this form of carelessness. This fact 
shows how important a risk it is. 

13. Treading on unused matches. — Treading on 
unused matches and setting them alight by friction 



COMMON HAZARDS. 9 

is a source of many more fires due to gross careless- 
ness, 

14. Carelessness in depositing hot ashes.— 

Carelessness in depositing hot ashes is also a cause 
of destructive fires. 

15. Smoking. — Smokers often throw down 
Hghted matches without troubling to extinguish 
them, or tap out red hot plugs of tobacco from 
their pipes on to inflammable material, and this 
again causes many fires. 

16. Iron Gratings.— Iron gratings are a 
dangerous feature, particularly when an accumu- 
lation of waste paper or other rubbish has fallen 
into the space below them. It very often happens 
that the cellar windows just below the gratings 
are broken and that the " undressed " beams of 
the ground floor are within a few inches of the 
window with the result that a lighted match 
thrown through the grating may easily ignite the 
waste paper and so cause fire to spread to the 
timber of the floor with disastrous results. 

This is a further instance of the benefit of 
cleanliness and order. 

17. Exposure. — Buildings are, in the majority 
of cases, exposed to some risk of fire spreading 
from neighbouring or adjoining buildings ; in the 
congested parts of towns, or in narrow streets, this 
risk may be very considerable. Of course the risk 
of exposure can be considered almost negligible 



lO 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



II 



if the building to be insured is of fireproof con- 
struction. Flames issuing froni adjacent buildings 
would find no nourishment from the outside of 
such a building nor could they penetrate its 
windows assuming that the latter were of wired 
glass and properly fixed. 

But as regards the majority of buildings the 
risk of exposure is a very real one. It depends 
upon : — 

1. The construction of the buildings concerned 
and of those near. 

2. The respective heights of the buildings. 

3. Their distance apart. 

4. The proximity of openings reciprocally, and 

whether they are directly opposite one 
another, or at an angle, or overlooking. 

5. The slope of the ground (in connection with 
the flow of inflammable liquids or water). 

A high building is more hable to communication 
of fire to it from an opposing low building than a 
low building from a high one, because the natural 
direction of flames is upward. 

A considerable slope of the ground from 
neighbouring premises to the insured building may 
have a great influence on the risk. For instance, 
in case of fire in the building built on the higher 
ground, a huge torrent of water may flow into the 
lower building, causing water damage which would 
have to be made good by the Insurance Company. 



f l"¥ 



\,^ 







Or, should the building on higher ground be an 
oil store, a garage or other kind of premises in which 
oil or petrol are stored, burning oil might flow 
towards the insured building and set it alight. 

We have not only to consider exposure from 
buildings that are contiguous or quite near : a 
building even some distance away may endanger 
the whole district if the latter is very con- 
gested, and the prevailing type of construction 
defective. 

A common instance of exposure risk is that 
caused by the proximity of hay stacks to farm 
buildings. 

18. Exposure — Wooden Gutters. — Wooden 
gutters are frequently a source of danger in con- 
nection with exposure as they often communicate 
fire from building to building. No doubt the 
reader will have seen fire leaping along wooden 
gutters and firemen striving to stem the tide as the 
blaze approached other buildings. 

This lateral spreading of fire along the gutters 
can be prevented by the use of brick or stone 
projecting corbels. 

Wooden gutters entail the risk of exposure 
particularly when they are overhanging a non-fire- 
containing roof, or overhanging or near to windov/s 
of an adjacent building ; for in such cases they may 
catch fire from flames emitted from the roof or 
windows of the adjacent building. 



12 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



13 



A remedy is to build the gutter inside a pro- 
jecting parapet wall. 

Gutters, spouts, etc. made of a composition of 
asbestos and cement are now obtainable. 

19. Exposure— Timber Gables.— Timber gables 
and ornamental woodwork on the outside of 
buildings are hazards similar to those mentioned 
in the previous paragraph. 

20. Exposure— Louvre-boards.— Some of the 
buildings used for certain industries, breweries, 
for instance, usually have part of the upper storey 
open to the air for ventilating purposes, part of the 
walls being only made of timber louvre-boards. 
This form of construction is not a very serious 
risk, apart from exposure, if proper precautions 
are taken in connection with the trade carried 
on ; but the risk of exposure would depend on the 
adjacent buildings, and, under unfavourable 
circumstances, would be serious. 

Louvre-boards surrounded by the air, as the\' 
are, would very quickly communicate flames 
issuing from an adjacent building. 

21. Exposure— Windows.— Windows and doors 
are the weak spots in walls as regards exposure 
unless the building stands a fair distance from all 
others. Flames spreading from neighbouring 
buildings will easily break ordinary windows, or 
set their woodwork ahght, and force an entry into- 
the building in either case. 



/ 



The severity of this risk depends upon the 
relative positions of the adjacent windows or other 
openings. A window facing a solid brick wall does 
not give rise to exposure risk unless the roof of 
the adjacent building is lower (or at least near) 
and not fireproof. 

Remembering that flames naturally rise rather 
than fall, it is obvious that the exposure risk from 
windows is less to that building which has the 
lower windows. 

To be fire-resisting, windows should be con- 
structed of wired glass set in hard iron frames. 

The more windows there are in the side of a 
non-fireproof building, the worse is of course the 
exposure risk. 

22. Exposure — Roof Timbers. — ^The point where 
the roof of a building is joined to the wall is always 
a weak place as regards exposure ; for fire playing 
on roofs at this point can usually penetrate the 
small crevices and reach the roof timbers. 

The remedy is to build the walls higher than 
this point to a height which seems adequate having 
regard to the size and occupancy of the adjacent 
buildings. 

23. Exposure — Other External Woodwork.— 
Wooden ventilators built on roof ridges may 
easily be set alight by conflagrations in their 
vicinity. 

Mansard roofs and Dormer windows are mainly 



J4 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



; I 




•constructed of wood and are hazardous in the same 
way. 

24. Too much window space. — Excessive 
window space reduces the wall's power of weight 
bearing. This does not matter in the case of a 
shed building; but in the case of a building 
having several storeys the weight of machinery 
and stock on the floors may be a considerable 
strain on the walls and, in case of a con- 
flagration, the collapse of the walls would be 
hastened if they were to a great extent composed 
of windows. 

This is a constructional hazard apart from the 
Exposure risk mentioned in paragraph 21. 

Windows are easily broken by fire or by the 
strong jets of water used by firemen, and when 
broken they give entry to draughts of air which 
facilitate the spreading of fire to the interior. 

25. Timber Construction.— It is true that most 
buildings, at any rate in this country, are brick or 
stone built and slated or tiled (B.S.S.T.) ; but a 
great deal of timber is nevertheless generally used 
in the interior of most buildings. 

Floor joists, floors, doors, window frames and 
sashes, mantelpieces, picture moulding, skirting- 
boards, hoists, staircases, etc., are usually or often 
of wood, though an increasing number of these 
things are nowadays being made of iron or other 
non-inflammable material. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



15 



^ m^ 



The greater part of most roofs is also timber 
built. 

The less timber construction the better, from 
a fire risk point of view. In Canada and many 
other newly developed countries it is responsible 
for a great loss in national wealth. 

Floor joists left uncovered, with " open finish " 
as it is called, add to the risk of floors catching fire. 

26. Wooden Linings to Walls and Ceilings. — 
Wooden linings to walls and ceilings are frequently 
to be found in warehouses, clothing factories, etc., 
where, for instance, cloth is stored from which 
damp and dust must be excluded. 

Such linings are very hazardous : they often 
cover and conceal air spaces and, in case of fire, 
they bum very easily, thus enabling the fire to 
spread rapidly. They are usually nailed to battens 
and it will be easily imagined how quickly they 
bum, if once set alight, the woodwork being 
practically surrounded by air. 

In the case of ceiling linings the wooden boards 
are nailed to the undersides of the floor joists, thus 
forming air-pockets similar to those behind wall 
linings. 

In all such spaces defects in electrical wiring, 
steam pipes or stove pipes may be concealed 
and these defects may suddenly give rise to fire. 

It is considered that air spaces, particularly 
vertical hidden air spaces in walls and behind 



i6 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



surface finishings, many of them used for gas pipes 
and electric wires, are exceptionally hazardous 
features in building construction. They should at 
least be provided with fire-stops at each storey. 

If wooden linings are fixed to wooden plugs let 
into the wall, it is important to make sure that 
such plugs have not been thrust into gas pipes 
or into fireplace flues, as in the one case a gas 
explosion may result ; and in the other case fire may 
ensue from the plug catching fire (after prolonged 
charring) and communicating flames to the wooden 
lining itself. 

Linings not exceeding 6 feet in height are not 
considered an excessive risk. 

27. Timber Partitions.— Timber partitions, like 
wooden linings, are very hazardous unless not 
exceeding 6 feet in height. 

Both linings and partitions, if they are to be of 
timber, 'are best made of hard non-resinous wood 
rather than match-boarding on timber-framing. 
The latter may be httle better than firetraps. But 
linings and partitions can now be made of asbestos 
preparations and from a fire risk point of view 
these are excellent. 

28. Roofs. — Roofs to be fire-resisting should : 

(a) Offer by their construction no important 

fuel to a fire occurring in the building but 
too often they are mainly built of timber 
except for the slates. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



17 



(b) They should present no features of con- 

struction which allow of easy communi- 
cation of fire to them such as mansard 
roofs, wooden ventilators, well-holes, etc. 

(c) They should be of sufficiently strong 

construction to resist ordinary falls of 
material upon them from surrounding 
buildings. 

(d) The external covering should be of non- 

combustible material. 

29. Imperfect Walls. — The walls separating 
two buildings should be built up to and through 
the roof to an adequate height, the comparative 
risk of fire spreading from the one building to the 
other being taken into consideration in deciding 
the height. 

Where the exposure risk is not considered 
serious the ** party " or dividing walls are often 
built only up to the roof and not through it, while 
terrace dwellings are often separated only by walls 
built as far as the top ceiling thus leaving a loft 
or attic running the whole length of the terrace, 
making the whole terrace practically one risk. 

Such lofts are particularly hazardous : people 
often store boxes, superfluous furniture or other 
property in them and occasionally rummage about 
in them with lighted candles, matches or tapers, 
which may easily set fire to the house if carelessly 
used. 



• 



i8 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



30. Projecting Shops. — Retail shops are often 
built as annexes at the front of houses so as to take 
advantage of suitable shopping positions without 
altering the original building. 

Such shops are usuall}^ of one storey only and 
are consequently lower than the building at the 
rear. The result is a considerable " exposure *' 
risk of fire from the latter unless the roof of the 
shop is of fireproof construction. 

In case of fire in the rear building these pro- 
jecting shops are often a serious obstacle to the 
firemen especially if there are not separate entrances 
to the two portions of the block ; for they (the 
firemen) may find difficulty, or experience delay, 
in reaching the fire through the shop, and they 
might find their way of escape cut off in fighting 
their way to the street from the rear. 

31. Buildings not B.S.S.T.— In this country, at 
least, buildings have attained such a high standard 
that it is exceptional to find one that is not built 
entirely of brick or stone and slated or tiled. 
There are of course many exceptions, but as a rule 
English buildings are B.S.S.T. (Cement concrete 
is considered equivalent to brick or stone in this 
connection, while tiles may be made of clay or 
metal. Roofs covered with concrete are of course 
as good or better than slated or tiled roofs.) 

Such a type of building (B.S.S.T.) is therefore 
taken as the normal by Fire Insurers and an 



r 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



19 



< 



additional rate is often charged for constructions 
that contain external materials that are more 
easily damaged by fire. 

Timber is obviously a poor fire-resisting material, 
although it may be mentioned that hard wood at 
least 9 in. thick offers considerable resistance to 
fire. Corrugated iron can offer practically no 
prolonged resistance to fire : its use in buildings 
constitutes a bad hazard. 

Portions of walls such as the walls of mansards 
constructed largely of slates do not come 
up to the standard implied in the expression 
B.S.S.T. 

Internal timber such as wooden partitions, 
doors, etc., and external timber used for gutters, 
ornaments, doors, window frames, etc., while bad 
features in themselves, do not preclude a building 
from falling in the category B.S.S.T. 

32. Exposed Iron-work. — Iron or steel girders 
or joists are often used to support portions of 
buildings, and the inexperienced student might 
think that these at least are materials that should 
■cause little anxiety to the Fire Insurance Company. 
This is, however, far from being the case. 

Cast iron when heated by fire and then suddenly 
cooled, as it would be by the water used for 
extinguishing purposes, cracks and thus endangers 
the building supported by it. 

Wrought iron turns and twists about under the 



r J 



20 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



influence of heat thereby doing great damage to 
the building supported. 

" Iron and steel girders and joists are liable to. 
" great expansion and contraction under the effects 
" of fire and water, and they often become con- 
" torted into the most fantastic shapes during a 
'* conflagration unless properly protected by an 
** efficient non-conductor of heat. This contortion 
** not only utterly ruins the floors, but ofttimes 
" results in the collapse of the walls also — in fact, 
" in the total wreck of the entire building." * 

It is exceedingly important that the iron 
portions of the frames of buildings, girders, joists, 
columns, pillars, etc., should be protected from the 
effects of fire by being covered with a casing of 
terra-cotta bricks at least 2 inches thick, concrete 
or plaster at least one inch thick. 

33. Staircases. — The prevention' of fire in a 
building where there is anything inflammable is 
largely a question of the prevention of draughts. 
A staircase requires an open space from the ground 
to the top ceiling of the building : as a rule it not 
only makes all the floors accessible to a fire on any 
one floor (and therefore all one risk), but it 
necessitates the existence of a wide column of air,, 
from the ground to the roof, which in case of fire 
begins at once to flow quickly in an upward 

* Report by the Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



21 



direction drawing in more air from all parts of the 
building through open windows or doors. A 
vigorous circulation of air is thus caused throughout 
the building giving an enormous encouragement 
to fire in whatever portion of the building it may 
arise. 

The hazard of a staircase is that it is a 
prodigious air-feed. The fact that a staircase often 
makes all parts of the building communicate with 
one another is not by any means its worst feature : 
it is the " air-feed " characteristic that necessitates 
an increased rate. 

Staircases, to be non-hazardous, should have 
steps and landings constructed of brick, stone, 
iron or cement concrete and should be enclosed 
in walls of brickwork, masonry, or cement 
concrete, all openings to floors being protected by 
fire-proof doors. 

34. Hoists. — Hoists are hazardous in the same 
way as staircases and should accordingly be 
entirely enclosed with cement concrete not less 
than six inches thick, or brickwork, or masonry ; 
they should also have an iron or metal-covered 
door to every opening. 

A hoist constructed otherwise necessitates an 
increased rate of premium. 

35. Well-holes. — *' Well-holes are commonly 
found as large openings through all the floors of a 
building, surmounted by a glazed roof, the upper 



OH 



22 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



floors forming galleries round the well, and in 
Drapers' risks these have frequently led to rapid 
and complete destruction of the premises." * 

Such well-holes are indeed often found in large 
Drapers' Shops, but are not confined to such risks. 
They constitute a serious hazard for the same 
reasons as staircases and hoists, but they combine 
these serious features with the exaggerated 
exposure of one part of the interior to another. 

36. Internal Areas. — Internal areas are features 
of risk often found in towns where land is expensive 
and great economy of space has to be observed in 
erecting buildings. Several buildings are grouped 
round the four sides of a small open space, thus 
obtaining light and a certain amount of ventilation. 

This arrangement brings the buildings near 
together and introduces exposure risk. 

The larger the internal area, the less is the 
exposure risk and vice versa. 

Opposing windows in such areas may be 
protected by fire-proof shutters to obviate or 
mitigate the risk ; the windows should be of wired 
glass ^set in iron frames and the walls built up 
above the roofs of the buildings. 

Internal areas are apt to have similar effects 
on a fire to those caused by a staircase, inasmuch 
as they may facilitate a tremendous up-draught 



* Mr. W. Carter. " Royal.' 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



23 



of air, the influence of which may be felt in all 
parts of the building if a fire has reached con- 
siderable dimensions in it. 

37. The Smaller Openings in Floors. — There are 
various unavoidable openings in floors of industrial 
risks which are liable to increase the hazard of 
fire unless properly protected. Such are, for 
instance : — 

Trap doors. 

Holes for ropes, belts, shafts, straps, steam- 
pipes, gas pipes, water pipes, spouts and 
trunks. 

Trap doors should not be more than four square 
feet in area. The holes for ropes, belts, shafts, 
etc, should be only large enough to admit such 
things, while spouts or trunks should be con- 
structed entirely of iron not less than one sixteenth 
of an inch thick or No. 16 Birmingham wire gauge, 
with an iron shutter of the same thickness to each 
opening. 

Shafts should fit closely in metal collars and 
all pipes and tubes should be cemented round the 
full thickness of the floor. 

38. Firegrates. — ^The risk of fire, as understood 
in Fire Insurance practice, is the risk of not always 
succeeding in confining fire to the places intended 
for it. Therefore a firegrate is in a sense one of 
the centres of risk. 



24 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



25 



Ml' 



There is the risk of cinders falUng out .of the 
grate on to wooden floors, oilcloth, or into clothes 
drying in the fender. 

Light material, as for instance straw or packing 
paper, may be thrown on the fire, long flames dart 
out and set woodwork round the grate on fire. 

The grate may have been built in such a way 
that the heat of the hearth gradually chars wooden 
beams underneath it with the result that some day 
the beams spring into flame endangering the whole 
house. This is a frequently occurring cause of 
fires in old mansions, old farmhouses, etc. 

Skirting boards and mantelpieces and the sides 
of fireplaces, being so near the fire, are best made of 
metal or cement. 

39. Disused Fireplaces. — Disused fireplaces in 
houses are sometimes covered up with wood or even 
paper. This is particularly hazardous because a 
chimney may sometimes serve two fireplaces and 
a fall of burning soot may arrive in the disused 
fireplace and set fire to the wooden or paper cover 
and so perhaps the whole house. 

40. Corners and Ledges in Flues and Chimneys. 
— Comers and ledges in flues and chimneys harbour 
soot which may burst into flame and may set fire 
to woodwork : they should be avoided as far as 
possible in construction, or roimded off by the 
addition of cement. 

41. Chimneys "on fire."— -While on the 



\ 



subject of chimneys and fire grates it may well be 
pointed out that when an accumulation of soot in 
chimneys and flues fires it often throws out a 
volume of sparks. Frequently such sparks aided 
by a high wind set fire to the roof timbers. 

This is a serious item of risk, and it emphasises 
the advisabihty of preventing accumulations of 
soot in flues and chimneys by frequent sweeping, 
by pargetting the sides of such chimneys and 
flues, and by constructing them in such a way as 
to avoid corners and ledges. 

42. Pipe Stoves. — Stoves are a useful and 
popular form of heating apparatus. There are 
various kinds burning coke, coal, anthracite, etc., 
but they mostly have an iron pipe conducting the 
smoke and gases through part of the building, 
through a wall or roof, into the open air. Stoves 
are very productive of fires and often constitute a 
bad feature of risk. 

Being so handy they are often carelessly 
installed without regard to the risk of fire. They 
should above all be placed on a sound and incom- 
bustible base, such as a stone slab or sheet of metal, 
and in such a position that the pipe is not 
underneath combustible material which may fall 
on to it. 

There are the following risks in connection with 
pipe stoves : — 

I. Cinders falling on to combustible floor. 



26 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



27 



i 
11 



2. Soot accumulating in pipe, firing and falling 
out, thus setting fire to combustible matter. 

3. Combustible material falling on to the hot 
stove or on to the hot stove pipe and thus catching 

fire. 

4. Radiation of heat from the stove setting fire 

to adjacent woodwork. 

5. Stove pipe setting fire to woodwork through 
which it passes, as, for instance, where it passes 
through floors or roofs or partitions. 

6. Sparks from outside end of pipe setting fire 
to woodwork on the outer side of the building. 

The precautions to be taken are as follows :— 

1. Stove should be placed on an incombustible, 
sound and substantial base. 

A large metal tray is a suitable base. 

2. It is desirable that the pipe should have as 
few or no bends in it where soot can easily 
accumulate. 

3. It should be placed in such a position that 
combustible material cannot fall on it or on the 

pipe. 

4. It should stand a reasonable distance from 

any woodwork. 

5. Where pipe passes through wood or other 
combustible material it should be protected by 
passsing through a metal collar 2 in. or so larger 
than the pipe itself, leaving J in. in diameter air 
space between collar and pipe. 



6. The outlet for smoke and gases should not 
be dangerously near any woodwork on the outside 
of the building. 

7. Care should be taken that material which 
produces long and unruly flames be not cast on to 
the fire as fuel or to be destroyed. 

8. Cracks in the pipe are very dangerous if 
anywhere near to woodwork or other combustible 
material and should be mended at once. 

9. It is desirable though not essential that the 
pipe should not be more than 3 feet in length. 

10. The pipe should pass through a cemented 
throttle when it penetrates woodwork. 

Pipe stoves are often used in connection with 
hot water pipes, and the above points should be 
remembered when considering hot water apparatus 
from a fire risk point of view. 

43. Gas Stoves. — Gas stoves if properly installed 
are fairly free from hazard except in incurring the 
danger of gas explosions. 

44.. Electric Radiators, etc.— Electric Radiators, 
steam heated air and Steam Heating Installations 
are good forms of heating arrangements. 

45. Boiler Fires and Furnace Flues.— In con- 
nection with furnaces and for industrial purposes 
the same remarks apply as for pipe stoves as 
regards the stove itself. 

A much greater heat is, however, required in 



28 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



29 






furnaces for heating boilers, and the risk of fire is 
correspondingly greater. 

The hazards are (i) defective setting; (2) 
inadequacy of the shafts used for getting rid of the 
waste gases of combustion ; (3) sparks flying from 
the furnace ; (4) adjacency of woodwork or other 
incombustible material ; (5) the drying of wood 
on the boiler or near the furnace ; (6) accumulation 
in the furnace room of inflammable material that 
is intended for immediate destruction with danger 
of hot cinders or ashes falling on to it. 

For a building to be really safe from fire 
boiler furnaces should not be in a non-fireproof 
-compartment within the building, and if in a 
fireproof compartment, or in a compartment 
outside the building the boiler house should not 
communicate with the building otherwise than by 
a fireproof door. 

Furnace flues should be lined with fire-brick 
throughout for a distance of at least twenty feet 
from the furnace. 

46. Engine Houses. — " In how many risks 
•erected a generation or more ago do we find engine 
houses tucked away in odd comers, often in timber 
partitioned-off compartments, frequently wood- 
lined and dark, dependent on the feeble ghmmer of 
a batswing burner for illumination. It is this 
type of engine house which affords so many 
opportunities for incipient fire. Its darkness leads 



r 



i 



to the use of the surreptitious candle and offers 
no inducement to the attendant to achieve that 
scrupulous cleanhness which is so desirable. 
Cleaning rags and waste are thrown about in odd 
■corners, and the combustible character of its oil- 
and-grease-soaked environment renders its presence 
within the main risk a menace which I think we 
sometimes fail to value at its true worth. 

In our modern risks it has become quite usual 
to find the engine house a self-contained shed risk, 
well lighted from the roof, an airy room with glazed 
brick walls and tiled floor — a very miracle of 
cleanhness. We find in evidence a metal cabinet 
lor the necessary oil, a metal tin for cleaning 
waste, and every sign of care." 

Mr. W. Carter, " Royal." 

47. Hot Water Heating Apparatus.—" A low 

pressure hot water system is one which is fed from 
a tank fitted above the highest part of it and open 
to the atmosphere. In such an apparatus the 
neatest heat attainable, even in the neighbourhood 
of the furnace, is the ordinary boihng point of 
water (212° F.) plus the shght extra temperature 
"due to the weight of the column of water between 
it and the tank. In a high pressure hot water 
system, however, this hmitation does not exist. 
The water is contained in an hermetically sealed 
circuit, the temperature attainable being regulated 



30 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



31 



by a relief valve, weighted so as to blow off at a 
given pressure." (" Post Magazine "). 

In a low pressure hot water apparatus the 
maximum temperature attained in the pipes is in 
practice only 160° F., although a temperature of 
212° F. is theoretically possible. 

High pressure hot water pipes may reach a 
temperature of 392° F. 

Fires have been known to be caused by hot 
water pipes remaining in contact with light 
inflammable material, or even woodwork, for a 
time, but the risk is not great. The chief source 
of danger is in the furnace and boiler room, and 
as to this the remarks in paragraphs 42, 45 & 46 
apply. 

It is desirable that the furnaces should be in 
separate chambers of a fire-resisting character 
communicating with the building to be heated 
only by a fire-proof door. This, however desirable, 
is not always or even often the case, but in some 
classes of risk is imperative. In a motor garage, 
for instance, it would be highly hazardous to have 
the furnace in the same compartment as vehicles 
containing petrol. 

48. Gas Lighting. — Gas lamps (by which term 
is commonly meant lamps burning coal gas in air) 
entail the following hazards : — 

I. In shop windows they are liable to set fire 
to hanging drapery, Christmas decorations, or 



i 



other flimsy articles, unless care is exercised to 
prevent their doing so. 

2. Where movable or swing brackets are used 
there is the danger of their being pushed too near 
woodwork or other inflammable material. 

3. Even when fixed they may be too near to 
woodwork (wooden hnings for instance) or other 
inflammable material. In this case the woodwork 
should be protected by a piece of metal fixed to the 
woodwork by long bolts and nuts, thus providing a 
clear air space of at least 2 in. between the wood 
and the metal. If metal plates are nailed or 
otherwise fixed close to woodwork they only 
conceal charring without preventing it. 

The above method of protecting woodwork 
from heat is useful of course whether the heat 
comes from a gas, a stove, or a furnace, etc. 

4. A frequent source of fires is the blowing of 
curtains on to naked gas lights. A house window 
is perhaps left open on a windy night and the 
flimsy curtains flap about the gas with disastrous 
results. For this reason the gas should be protected 
by a glass globe or a strong wire cage. 

5. The heat given off by the burner may be 
intense enough to char and eventually to set 
alight a wooden ceihng if there be one above it and 
near it. This danger is more acute if the gas is 
an incandescent gas and particularly if it carries 
an upright vertical mantle : the inverted mantle 



"U -r 



3« 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



33 



is perhaps less dangerous in this respect because it 
has metal fittings above it which carry off the heat 
to some extent. 

This risk should be prevented by the suspension 
of a metal reflector, of suitable size, above the 

flame. 

In the incandescent gas the mantle is made 
luminous by the heat of a bimsen burner which is 
very much more intense than an ordinary gas 
light and greater precautions are therefore 

necessary. 

6. Gas lamps are sometimes used in which the 
gas is led to the lamp through a flexible rubber 
tube. This is a distinct hazard: these tubes 
easily get split or slack and there is considerable 
danger of a big escape of gas, and therefore of gas 
explosion. The explosion of coal gas in this way is 
of course a risk that is generally covered by Fire 
Insurance poHcies. 

Further the rubber tubmg may accidentally be 

set alight. 

In connection with incandescent lighting, 
" There are in use many systems whereby the 
pressure of the gas as dehvered by the mains is 
raised, so that the gas issues at the bunsen burner 
at an increased velocity and takes with it a pro- 
portionally increased amoimt of air with corre- 
sponding intensity of heat.'* 

Mr. L. T. Healey, " Royal." 



i. 



Other things being equal a high pressure 
incandescent gas, of course, needs safeguards such 
as metal reflectors or metal shields to woodwork 
more urgently than an ordinary burner. 

49. Paraffin Lamps.— Standard Paraffin Lamps 
are easily knocked over and many household fires 
are caused in this way. The same appUes of 
course to table lamps. When knocked over they 
do not necessarily explode but burning paraffin 
runs about the floor setting fire to floor coverings 
and tapestry. 

Portable paraffin stoves cause fires in the san^e 
way. 

Paraffin lamps with containers made of glass 
are particularly hazardous on account of the risk 
of the glass breaking. 

There is also the danger of explosion with 
paraffin lamps. The latter should be kept 
scrupulously clean and the wicks should be tight 
fitting. 

50. Candles.— Candles cause a great number of 
fires. They are so cheap that they are used by the 
million; they are so handy that thousands of 
workmen use them for all sorts of jobs where light 
is required in dark places ; they are so round and 
yet so inflammable that if knocked over they run 
along the floor and keep ahght ; and they are 
mostly used naked. 

Tapers are as bad. 



V. - — 



24 COMMON HAZARDS. 

Common instances of fires caused by Ughted 
candles and tapers are as follows :— 

(a) Workmen using them carelessly in the 

cocklofts of houses. 

(b) People reading by candle Hght in bed and 

falling asleep, perhaps knocking the candle 
over. 

(c) Grease on geared machinery being ignited 

by candle flame. 
(i)^Children playing with candles. 

51. Acetylene Gas.— Acetylene is more Uable 
to'explode than coal gas, and it is heavier risk if 
for this reason alone. 

The risks attending coal gas lights apply also to 
Acetylene, but to a greater extent, unless the user 
is more careful, as he mostly would be, than with 
the more familiar luminant. 

The generating apparatus must be kept in 
the open or in a separate building used for no 
other purpose. Acetylene being one of the most 
explosive and inflammable gases known, its 
generation is to be absolutely prohibited in a 
building used for habitation or industrial or 
storage purposes. 

52. Petrol Lamps.— There are now many 
patterns of burning lamps that burn petrol vapour 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



35 



i 



^ 

1 



and some of these give a light equal to 3CX) candle 
power. They are comparatively cheap and not 
particularly risky, so that it is likely that their 
use will increase considerably. 

53. Gas Engines. — Gas Engines are machines 
the effectiveness of which depends upon the timely 
explosion of a mixtmre of coal gas and air within a 
metal container. It is obvious then that they may 
become dangerous if for any reason the explosion 
takes place in some other than the appointed place. 
There is unfortunately a liability for the mixture 
to explode in the exhaust pipe. Partly for this 
reason and partly because the exhaust pipe is 
peculiarly liable to become hot in any case, that 
is a portion of the engine to which attention 
should particularly be paid by the Insurance 
Surveyor. 

A high degree of heat is necessarily maintained 
within gas engines, and consequently there is a 
danger of their external parts (but particularly 
the exhaust pipe) becoming hot enough to ignite 
inflammable material that is in contact or juxta- 
position. Care should therefore be taken in this 
respect as also in seeing that the engine is satisfac- 
torily erected in a suitable position. 

In connection with gas engines there are, of 
course, the dangers inherent in using for any 
purpose at all such an explosible gas as coal gas. 



36 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



COMMON HAZARDS. 



37 



54. Hazardous Goods. — The foUowing are 
hazardous goods: — 



1 



Anthracine. 
Albo-carbon. 
Bi-sulphide of carbon. 
Brimstone. 
Calcium carbide, 
Camphine. 
Celluloid. 
Fire-lighters. 

Fireworks. 

Gunpowder and other 
explosives. 

Vegetable and lamp blacks. 

Liquid acetylene. 

Matches (stored wholesale). 

Mineral oils and their liquid 
products. 

Mungo. 



Naphtha. 

Nitrates and chlorates of 
sodium and potassium. 

Pitch. 

Rags. 

Resin. 

Rubber and gutta-percha 

solutions. 
Shoddy. 

Spirits, not rectified. 
Tallow. 
Tar. 

Turpentine. 
Varnish. 

Vegetable fibres and grasses. 
Textile mill waste. 
Wood spirit. 



TEST QUESTIONS. 



.\ 



1. State reasons for considering a five-storeyed 

warehouse to be a heavier risk than a three- 
storeyed warehouse otherwise of similar nature. 

2. What bearing on the Fire Risk has the Cubical 

Capacity of a building? State reasons for 
your opinion. 

3. Why is information as to the number of assistants 

in a large Drapers Shop considered useful in 
estimating the Fire Risk ? Give at least two 
different reasons. 

4. Indicate as many dangers as you can that are 

entailed by Plural Tenancy. 

5. Why do you consider that Night- work is likely 

to increase the risk of Fire in a factory ? 

6. Indicate in a few words what instructions you 

would recommend the Manager of a country 
Saw Mill to issue regarding the cleanhness of 
his premises. 

7. How does the accumulation of shavings, oily 

waste, paper and other refuse on the floor of a 
factory increase the danger of fire ? 

8. A low pressure hot water apparatus having been 

installed in a blouse factory, to what parts of 
the system would you pay special attention 
when inspecting the installation ? 



38 



TEST QUESTIONS. 



fc 



n What precautions do you consider nece^ary m 

^ connection with the introduction and use of a 

low pressure hot water apparatus in a factory . 

10 Indicate, in a few words, five commonly occurring 
causes of Exposure Hazard. 

TT Fxnlain why vou consider the wooden linings in a 
"■ ^ Srui or factory to be a serious feature of 

risk. 
X. Write a short paragraph or two on the question of 
''• "^"oof s in re^atTon to tL effect of their construction 

on Fire Hazards. 
13. Describe the main features (^romj.jlrejnsnrer's 
^ point of view) of a perfect party wall. 
14 Which of the following supports for floor joints 
give rise to the least fire risk :— 

(i) Iron columns (uncovered). 

gSSuimber pillars, xr thick. 
How would you suggest any of these could be 
improved from the point ,of view of the Fire 
Insurer ? 
Ts Describe the bad features of internal are^ with 
'5- ° reference to their effect on the Fire Risk of 
buildings surrounding them. 

16 What precautions would you recommend should 
'^- ^ be observed in installing a pipe f "J^ * ^^ ^^^ 

purpose of heating water for a low pressure 

hot water system ? 
Tf , stove Dine is to pass through a wooden 
'7- "-partWon Xt speciafprecautions would you 

recommend ? 



f-i 



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V/ilkinson 
Common hazards 



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